The Edwards Agency

Opinion

Canterbury Square running out of time

Canterbury Square Two years ago, 150-plus senior citizens from Canterbury Square marched on City Hall (black balloons and all) to focus public attention on the City Council's indifference to the fate of Canterbury Square Mobile Home Park.
   We are still here, but no thanks to the City Council. We had to sue the city and then raise over $7 million ourselves to buy out the former owners and create a condominium. For the first time, the residents of Canterbury Square own the land beneath their mobile homes.
   Surprisingly, we find ourselves at odds with City Hall again. The city has a plan to build new roads throughout the city. Someday, the city will get around to buying the right-of-way so they can develop these roads. But in the meantime, even before the city pays a single penny for any interest in the land, the city claims they can stop property owners from using this land as they see fit.
   Whatever happened to private property rights? It is one thing for the city to preclude development in rights of way by paying money and acquiring the right of way. Isn't it unconstitutional for the city to effectively lay claim to the right of way without paying a penny in compensation?
   We think so. Our attorney has pressed this issue with the city for eight months. The city has led us on, always promising a response tomorrow, next week, or next month. We have run out of time and patience.
   The city's regulation precludes us from developing six to 11 vacant lots along the north margin of Canterbury Square. Development of these lots would help complete the financing of our purchase of the property and would also provide reimbursement to Canterbury Square homeowners who, so far, have incurred the expense of converting the property to a condominium. Just last week, City Council Member Brocha apologized for city's failure to respond to this problem.
   We appreciate the apology, but would much rather have a solution to the problem. The City Council keeps asserting that the city is here to provide red carpet treatment for its citizens. So far, they couldn't be further from the mark.
   Some City Council members have been supportive of our efforts (Marsha Engel, Barbara Solberg, and Art Saulness). Some of the staff has been sympathetic, too. But we need a majority of the City Council to move in our direction. We are waiting, but running out of time. If we must take legal action again to protect our interest, believe us, we will!

George Scrimshaw, President, Canterbury Square Assoc.